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Whale Rider
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Whale Rider (2002) More at IMDbPro »

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Whale Rider -- A small Maori village faces a crisis when the heir to the leadership of the Ngati Konohi dies at birth and is survived only by his twin sister, Pai.
Whale Rider -- A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize.


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7.7/10   32,708 votes »
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Down 10% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Niki Caro (written by)
Witi Ihimaera (book)
View company contact information for Whale Rider on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
29 August 2003 (USA) See more »
One young girl dared to confront the past, change the present and determine the future See more »
A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 31 wins & 32 nominations See more »
User Reviews:
A beautiful film! See more (344 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Keisha Castle-Hughes ... Paikea

Rawiri Paratene ... Koro
Vicky Haughton ... Nanny Flowers

Cliff Curtis ... Porourangi
Grant Roa ... Uncle Rawiri
Mana Taumaunu ... Hemi
Rachel House ... Shilo
Taungaroa Emile ... Willie
Tammy Davis ... Dog
Mabel Wharekawa ... Maka (as Mabel Wharekawa-Burt)
Rawinia Clarke ... Miro
Tahei Simpson ... Miss Parata
Roi Taimana ... Hemi's Dad (as Roimata Taimana)
Elizabeth Skeen ... Rehua
Tyronne White ... Jake (as Tyrone White)
Taupua Whakataka-Brightwell ... Ropata
Tenia McClutchie-Mita ... Wiremu
Peter Patuwai ... Bubba
Rutene Spooner ... Parekura
Riccardo Davis ... Maui
Apiata Whangaparita-Apanui ... Henare

John Sumner ... Obstetrician
Sam Woods ... Young Rawiri
Pura Tangira ... Ace
Jane O'Kane ... Anne
Aumuri Parata-Haua ... Baby Paikea

Directed by
Niki Caro 
Writing credits
Niki Caro (written by)

Witi Ihimaera (book "The Whale Rider")

Produced by
John Barnett .... producer
Reinhard Brundig .... co-producer
Bill Gavin .... executive producer
Linda Goldstein Knowlton .... executive producer
Reinhild Gräber .... supervising producer: ApolloMedia
Frank Hübner .... producer
Witi Ihimaera .... associate producer
Rudolf Kurz .... supervising producer: ApolloMedia
Tim Sanders .... producer
Original Music by
Lisa Gerrard 
Cinematography by
Leon Narbey (director of photography)
Film Editing by
David Coulson 
Casting by
Diana Rowan 
Production Design by
Grant Major 
Art Direction by
Grace Mok 
Costume Design by
Kirsty Cameron 
Makeup Department
Barbie Cope .... hair assistant
Barbie Cope .... makeup assistant
Denise Kum .... hair supervisor
Denise Kum .... makeup supervisor
Jane O'Kane .... hair assistant
Jane O'Kane .... makeup assistant
Kenzie Sampson .... makeup trainee (as Kenzie Samson)
Orlando Bassi .... wig maker (uncredited)
Production Management
Janet McIver .... production manager
Peter Moerenhout .... unit manager (as Pete Moerenhout)
Anne Urban .... post-production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Anna Gundesen .... assistant director: second unit
Neil James .... second assistant director
Michelle Sowman .... third assistant director
Liz Tan .... first assistant director
Art Department
John Brockie .... carpenter
Pete Burney .... carpenter
Brian Campbell .... set finisher
Graham Collins .... carpenter
Kerry Dunn .... scenic artist
Jackie Gilmore .... set dresser
Brett Graham .... sculptor: Porourangi's sculpture
Kate Highfield .... art department manager
Maka Makatoa .... storyboard artist
Bernard Makoare .... designer: Reiputa
John Miles .... construction manager
Russell Munro .... carpenter (as Russ Munro)
Lia Neilson .... art department runner
Josh Patterson .... greensman
Aaron Reedy .... property assistant
Michaela Sanders .... art department runner
Richard Sheath .... leading hand
Megan Vertelle .... set dresser/buyer
Nick Walter .... carpenter
Nick Weir .... props buyer
Neil Williamson .... carpenter
Patrick Matete .... props (uncredited)
Roger Murray .... propmaker (uncredited)
Anthony Sumich .... props stand-by (uncredited)
Sound Department
Chris Burt .... adr supervisor
Stefan Colli .... sound designer: atmos (as Stephan Colli)
Stefan Colli .... sound supervisor (as Stephan Colli)
Corrin Ellingford .... boom operator
Hubert Henle .... sound consultant: Dolby
Stefan Korte .... sound re-recording mixer
David Madigan .... sound recordist
Sven Neumann .... dialogue editor
Mirko Reinhard .... special effects sound designer
Luigi Rensinghoff .... dialogue editor
Wilmont Schulze .... foley artist
Josef Steinbüchel .... special effects sound designer
Markus Wimmer .... special effects sound designer
André Zimmerman .... sound designer: atmos (as André Zimmermann)
David Madigan .... production sound mixer (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Phil Addenbrook .... physical effects: Film Effects (as Phil Addenbrooke)
Dean Clarke .... physical effects: Film Effects
Oliver Gee .... special effects assistant
Visual Effects by
Dan Blanchard .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Christel Brunn .... visual effects producer: TVT
Justin Buckingham .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Manfred Büttner .... visual effects producer: TVT
Barry Down .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Steve Dyson .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Erich Eder .... inferno artist: TVT
Erich Eder .... technical director: TVT
Terry Green .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Jason Johnston .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
John Lott .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Steve Lowe .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
George Maihöfer .... visual effects superviser: TVT (as George Maihoefer)
Charlie McClellan .... digital effects consultant: TVT (as Charles McClellan)
Greg N. Nichols .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects (as Greg Nichols)
Kevin Riley .... visual effects
Caterina Schiffers .... digital compositing: TVT
Florian Schuck .... digital retouching: TVT
Dean Taylor .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Gaysorn Thavat .... visual effects (as Gatsorn Thavat)
Markus Wollschläger .... digital retouching: TVT
Steve Young .... whale construction: Glasshammer Visual Effects
Dee McClelland .... dailies colorist (uncredited)
Mark Harris .... stunt coordinator
Camera and Electrical Department
Armie Armstrong .... underwater camera operator
Rachel Beard .... clapper loader
Joshua Creek .... additional grip (as Josh Creeks)
Kevin Donovan .... key grip
Rhys Duncan .... steadicam operator
Kirsty Griffin .... still photographer
Brenden Holster .... camera assistant: second unit (as Brendan Holster)
Steven Joyce .... generator operator (as Steve Joyce)
Steven Joyce .... generator operator
Brian Laird .... best boy
Henare Mato .... lighting assistant
Grant McKinnon .... gaffer
Leon Narbey .... camera operator
Kevin Riley .... camera operator: second unit
Jim Rowe .... grip assistant
Paul Samuels .... focus puller
Sigmund Spath .... underwater photographer
Gaysorn Thavat .... focus puller: second unit
Johnny Yarrel .... video assistant
James Young .... lighting assistant
Paul Matete .... best boy (uncredited)
Casting Department
Christina Asher .... additional casting
Robyn Cammell .... casting assistant (as Robin Cammell)
Riwia Fox .... casting assistant
Riwia Fox .... extras casting
Karen Sydney .... additional casting
Stewart Turner .... additional casting (as Stuart Turner)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Paul Booth .... wardrobe runner
Deirdre McKessar .... assistant costume designer
Jenny Rushton .... standby wardrobe (as Jenni Rushton)
Editorial Department
Julie Alp .... assistant editor
Hans Joachim Bruß .... color grader (as Hans-Joachim Bruß)
Renate Dahmen .... negative cutter
Guido Krajewski .... editing facility manager
Bruce McArthur .... laboratory manager: Atlas
Robert Pinnow .... post-production technical supervisor: TVT
Clare Burlinson .... video colorist (uncredited)
Charles Knight .... editorial advisor (uncredited)
Dee McClelland .... rushes colorist (uncredited)
Music Department
Simon Bowley .... music mixer
Ricky Edwards .... technical music support (as Rickey Edwards)
Chris Gough .... music supervisor: Mana Music
Jacek Tuschewski .... technical music support (as Jacek Tushewski)
Michael Edwards .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Savage .... music performer: Deceptikonz member (uncredited)
Other crew
Phil Addenbrook .... marine engineer: Film Effects (as Phil Addenbrooke)
Kath Allen .... chaperone: Gisborne
Shane Armitage .... safety officer
Thomas Becker .... legal affairs: ApolloMedia
Tania Bettany .... financial controller: South Pacific Pictures
Josef Brandmaier .... structured finance
Anni Browning .... completion bond: Film Finances
Sally Campbell .... head of production: South Pacific Pictures
Alice Carstensen .... production runner
Dean Clarke .... marine engineer: Film Effects
Sian Clement .... unit publicist
Helen Copplestone .... assistant accountant
Birthe Danielsen .... assistant: Mr. Felscher
David Dant .... shortfall insurance: Filmvision
Matt Emery .... legal and business affairs manager: South Pacific Pictures
Thorsten Felscher .... financial controller: ApolloMedia
Laura Fong .... production coordinator
Oliver Gee .... marine engineer: Film Effects
Moira Grant .... production coordinator
Carol Haapu .... consultant: Iwi
Rewa Harker .... assistant: John Barnett
Brian Harris .... operator: remote head
Karen Hawkyard .... animal wrangler
Willie Heatley .... boat coordinator (as Willy Heatley)
Maude Isaac .... chaperone: Gisborne
Lyssa Judd .... production runner
Camelija Karlic .... production coordinator: Pandora
Jens Kriegel .... projection assistant
Matt Lawford .... shortfall insurance: Filmvision
Di Magee .... production accountant
Samia Mainz .... assistant: Mr. Hubner
Pat Merrifield .... swimming coach
Guy Moana .... maori design/carvings
James Mok .... title designer: TVT
Damian Molloy .... water safety
Markus Münz .... projection assistant
Waio Parata-Haua .... stand-in: Paikea
Podge .... location manager
Johnny Poi .... instructor: Taiaha
Ngamaru Raerino .... kaumatua: South Pacific Pictures
Karin Reinink .... assistant: John Barnett
Robert Sarkies .... script editor
Joan Scheckel .... script consultant
Nadine Schäfer .... assistant: Mr. Westerkamp and Mr. Schafer
Krissy Stainton .... production runner
Dominic Stones .... unit assistant
Gavin Strawhan .... script consultant
Hone Taumaunu .... consultant: Iwi
Rainer Teusner .... accountant: Pandora
Kathleen Thomas .... continuity (as Kath Thomas)
Aaron Tomlinson .... casual assistant
Martin Trendall .... insurance: Mahony, Trendall, Jack
Mike Turner .... manager: second unit
Karla Wallace .... production secretary
Jörg Westerkamp .... legal affairs: ApolloMedia (as Jorg Westerkamp)
Stephanie Wilkin .... chaperone
Stephanie Wilkin .... tutor
Hone Taumaunu .... production advisor (uncredited)
Dave Ahu .... special thanks
Mere Boynton .... special thanks
Nancy Greystone .... special thanks
Liddy Holloway .... special thanks
Derek Lardelli .... special thanks (as Derek)
Rose Lardelli .... special thanks
Andrew Lister .... special thanks
Ian Mune .... special thanks
Murray Newey .... special thanks
Kath Te Kani .... special thanks
Judith Trye .... special thanks
Tim Worrall .... special thanks

Production CompaniesDistributorsSpecial EffectsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Rated PG-13 for brief language and a momentary drug reference
101 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Argentina:Atp | Australia:PG | Brazil:Livre | Canada:PG (Alberta/Manitoba/Nova Scotia/Ontario) | Canada:G (British Columbia/Quebec) | Finland:K-7 | Germany:6 | Hong Kong:IIA | Iceland:L | Ireland:PG | Netherlands:AL | New Zealand:PG | Norway:11 | Peru:PT | Portugal:M/6 | Singapore:PG | South Korea:All | Sweden:7 | Switzerland:10 (canton of Geneva) | Switzerland:10 (canton of Vaud) | Switzerland:12 (canton of the Grisons) | UK:PG | USA:PG-13

Did You Know?

Witi Ihimaera's 1987 source novel is now a fixture on the New Zealand school syllabus.See more »
Continuity: When the girl has been crying and the grandfather is comforting her, he wipes the tears from her face. In some shots, you can see where he wiped the tear, in other shots, you see a tear that has tricked down to her chin, and in some shots, she has a tear that hasn't traveled so far.See more »
[first lines]
Paikea:In the old days, the land felt a great emptiness. It was waiting. Waiting to be filled up. Waiting for someone to love it. Waiting for a leader.
[child birth scene]
Paikea:And he came on the back of a whale. A man to lead a new people. Our ancestor, Paikea. But now we were waiting for the firstborn of the new generation, for the descendant of the whale rider. For the boy who would be chief.
Paikea:There was no gladness when I was born. My twin brother died, and took our mother with him.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Cleanflix (2009)See more »
Voice / Percussion LoopSee more »


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25 out of 29 people found the following review useful.
A beautiful film!, 4 July 2003
Author: rosscinema ( from Oceanside, Ca.

While 1994's "Once Were Warriors" was a violent look at Maori culture this is easily more upbeat and lyrical. Story starts out in a hospital where a mother has just given birth to twins and the male twin dies as does the mother. The remaining twin is a girl and the film is about her and how she thinks and wants to be the future leader of her village. The film is set in modern day and we see the girl Pai (Keisha Castle-Hughes) as a 12 year old who knows that her twin brother that died was suppose to be the future chief. Pai's father is Porourangi (Cliff Curtis) and he's an artist who has left the village for a career and Pai is raised by her grandparents Koro and Nanny (Rawiri Paratene and Vicky Haughton) and she craves the respect from Koro but he is of the old ways and is still searching for a new chief. She wants to learn the ways of being chief but Koro yells at her not to fool with the sacred ways of their people. Women are treated as second class but Pai eavesdrops on Koro's classes with the young boys and learns the ways. The film is directed by Niki Caro and its only her third film but this should definitely put her on everyones list as a great future director. The film is beautiful to look at and even though its not a big budget movie the story and images make this an unforgettable viewing experience. Caro does a wonderful job of allowing the story to tell itself without relying on plot contrivances. Even though the story is more of a fable it still comes across as relevant and believable. One scene in particular stands out and its the one where Pai is receiving an award at school and she has invited Koro to watch her but instead of him making the obligatory entrance, Koro has discovered something more important. The performances are superb and Castle-Hughes gives I think one of the best performances of the year. What makes it so amazing is that its her film debut! You would think that you were watching a seasoned actress but your not! She's incredible to look at and in some scenes she comes across as so strong willed but then in other shots she's just a fun loving young girl. Castle-Hughes conveys both sorrow and pity as she dreams of being a chief. A remarkable performance that was crucial to the film. Without her performance the film would come across as more distant emotionally. The images of Castle-Hughes on the back of the whale as it submerges are so haunting and beautiful and its these scenes that give it a lyrical quality and the emotional impact of the story is impossible to ignore. This is more than just a film its a viewing experience that everyone must see! Beautiful, haunting and a performance that you will never forget. Go see it!

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